Is Nationalism still Europe’s Dominant Political Ideology?

Four historians consider whether the continent that gave the world the nation state still remains in its thrall.

A propaganda poster for the Vichy Regime, c.1940-1942. Wiki Commons.

‘The nationalist dream – of a world composed of self-contained nation states – remains powerful’

Edin Hajdarpašić, Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University, Chicago

What’s distinctive about nationalism is not so much its alleged dominance as its proven adaptability and persistence. Even in the heyday of ‘nation fever’ during the ‘long 19th century’, from 1789-1914, nationalists rarely held exclusive sway in European politics as they competed with and borrowed from advocates of imperialism, capitalism, communism and other ‘isms’ of modernity. Amid this ideological tumult, nationalists of all stripes appealed to a shared notion summarised by the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini: ‘Every nation a state, only one state for the entire nation.’ 

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